In the torrent of celluloid turned
out by hard-driving B director Edward L. Cahn, a handful
of his genre efforts stand out as remarkable in one
regard or another. For instance, beyond its frayed edges,
one senses a great deal of tension woven into the visual
fabric of It! The Terror From Beyond Space. Likewise,
rapid-fire grade B outings, such as She Creature
and Girls in Prison, are invested with an intrinsic
energy that's hard to miss.
All the above qualities are extant
in what is arguably both Cahn's most industrious and
laughable film, Invasion of the Saucer Men (1958).
Its elements of humor are heavy-handed and cringe-worthy,
its horror ingredients are, more often than not, clumsily
drawn. But its crapshoot combination of bad vaudeville,
fatuous sci fi and hot-rodding teens is stitched onto
a hokily fast-moving script that Cahn lensed in his
typical breakneck fashion.
of those involved were well-versed in the J.D. genre.
Cahn had recently wrapped Dragstrip Girl and
Motorcycle Gang. Steve Terrell, fresh from the
set of Hot Rod Girl, was on hand, as was Gloria
Castillo, no doubt pooped from fighting off the advances
of the Teenage Monster that same year.
The plot, basically one more
'cry wolf' story, conveys the vain pleadings of these
torpid teens whose ignorant adult overseers simply won't
buy their terror-filled tale of an alien invasion.
Enlisting the one adult who reluctantly
agrees to aid them -- a seedy salesman, played by Space
Patrol's Lynn Osborn -- it's up to our rockin' protagonists
to save the world, employing their chopped and channeled
street rods to this very end.
Hardly helping matters is Frank
Gorshin as Osborne's unbearably annoying partner. This
obnoxious character has "victim" written all
over him and it isn't long before he's done in by alcohol
poisoning. It seems the alien's scaly mitts are pronged
with booze-injecting needles, and the scene containing
Gorshin's demise provides the film with its few spooky
The bulb-headed invaders were
once again the creation of rubber-suit sultan Paul Blaisdell.
Their veined craniums and sinewy claws are certainly
one of the more indelible sci fi cinema images to emerge
from a decade already crowded with cheap creatures.
Filling out the saucer threads were a team of short-statured
thespians, genre veteran Angelo Rossito prominent among
them. Also noteworthy is western character stalwart
Raymond Hatton as the gun-totin' curmudgeon who lives
near the steaming teens' favorite make-out spot.
One of the more promising teens
stars, Gloria Castillo, stood out in the typically thankless
role of the squeamish heroine. She'd made her debut
in an impeccable film, Charles Laughton's lyrical Night
of the Hunter (1955). As Rose, an affection-starved
orphan nearly tempted from the steadying hand of mothering
Lillian Gish, she held her own in a film clearly dominated
by Robert Mitchum's fierce performance. She made only
a handful of films in an unjustly brief career. Those
profiled below are bona fide cult gems:
Castillo is the conniving
bad girl in his truly offbeat flick, qualifying as the
only J.D.-horror-sci fi-western. Charlie, the aforementioned
monster teen is struck by a meteor as a child, maturing
into the hirsuted, growling man-child whom Gloria woos
in order to get within glomming distance of his momma's
bad-girl role for Ms. Castillo, as one of several reform
dorm femmes manipulated by sleazy, smarmy Edd "Kooky"
Byrnes. Gloria's noteworthy cellmates include Sally
Kellerman and saucy Yvette Vickers. For hardcore trivia
hounds, the flick also features Ed BURNS and was directed
by Ed BERNDS.